In the southwest of France, the Dordogne valley offers varied activities. Not far from here Vézère valley and its famous Lascaux cave, the Dordogne valley, in the Périgord Noir, concentrates several of the Most Beautiful Villages of France but also sites classified as Historic Monuments such as the Château de Beynac, the Château de Castelnaud or the Château des Milandes! It is also classified asUNESCO as a world biosphere reserve. For families or with friends, the Dordogne valley will seduce you!

History and geography of the Dordogne valley

Where is the Dordogne valley?

Did you know ? The Dordogne is also the river name ! It begins at Puy de Sancy and joins the Garonne, passing through Corrèze and the Lot, in the southwest of France. The Dordogne valley thus forms a unique landscape, including oak forests, to which the Périgord noir refers to. The Dordogne valley adjoins the Vézère valley inhabited by humans for more than 400 years. It is also in the Vézère valley that certain sites are located paleolithic : the Lascaux cave, the Combarelles cave, etc.

A little history

Au Middle ages, the Dordogne valley is developing economically. It is also the scene of clashes between France and England. They will give birth to the villages and bastides of Périgord, some of which are labeled Most Beautiful Villages of France :

  • La Roque-Gageac;
  • Domme;
  • Castelnaud;
  • Belvès;
  • Beynac-et-Cazenac.

The Dordogne valley: recognized as a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO

Since July 2012, the Dordogne valley in Périgord Noir has been classified by theUNESCO as a world biosphere reserve. This label rewards efforts undertaken for the conservation of biodiversity and the responsible management of tourism. 

The Dordogne valley along the water

Are you considering an alternative to traditional tourism to visit the Dordogne valley? Why not sail on the river? 

In a motor boat or canoeing , you can discover the landscapes and admire the villages which border the Dordogne. Of the barge excursions, a traditional boat for transporting goods, are offered along the river.

The greenway to visit the Dordogne valley by bike

For cycling lovers, the Dordogne valley is crossed by several cycle lanes. Enough to enjoy nature and its heritage at a peaceful pace, far from the road.

The greenway, built on the old railway line, departing from Sarlat, winds along the Dordogne, in the shade of forests and cliffs. In the heart of the Périgord Noir, this route combines outdoor activity and a moment of relaxation in family

Castles to visit in the Dordogne valley

A trip to the Dordogne valley, in the south-east of Périgord Noir, also means visiting extraordinary castles. Follow the leader !

The castle of Castelnaud-la-Chapelle

Built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne valley, the castle offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area and the Beynac castle. The castle was built in the 12th century and served as a fortified place for local lords. Today, the fortress houses the Museum of War in the Middle Ages. An exceptional collection of weapons and armor awaits you there, as well as vintage war machines.

Beynac Castle

Built in 1180, Beynac Castle is one of the largest and oldest medieval fortresses in the Dordogne valley. After strolling through the streets of the village, you can visit the castle and admire the right bank of the Dordogne, as well as the Castelnaud castle, from the top of its steep cliff. 

Milandes Castle 

The gardens and Château des Milandes, which date from the 15th century, are worth visiting during your stay in the Dordogne valley and Périgord Noir. The gardens listed as Historic Monuments are particularly worth the detour! Another anecdote: the Château des Milandes is world famous for having been the home of the famous dancer and singer Josephine Baker.

Visiting the Dordogne valley: family activities

Tourism in the Dordogne valley, in the Périgord Noir, is ideal for family stays.

Marqueyssac Gardens

Framing a castle with a magnificent slate roof, these listed gardens from the beginning of the 6th century offer you a XNUMX km walk punctuated by more than 150 boxwood worked by hand, dry stone huts and rockeries. 

The bamboo grove of La Roque-Gageac

Another unusual visit to the Périgord Noir and the Dordogne valley: the bamboo grove of La Roque-Gageac. This botanical garden is located in the heart ofone of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. Stroll through the park 3 hectares and admire this asian plant which can measure up to 30 m: bamboo!

Domme, ranked among the most beautiful villages in France

Not to be missed during your visit to the Dordogne valley: the village of Domme. With its market hall, its towers, its ramparts and its cave, the village is a jewel of the Périgord Noir.

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